Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Christina Aguilera - Lotus (updated)

Hello there! How are you? Have you listened to Mrs. Aguilera newest album yet? No? Then maybe you will find this review pretty old-school.

The cover is quite interesting: the naked Mrs. Aguilera rising from a lotus blossom. Don't worry, the interesting parts are hidden, so it's still quite safe. The pinkish color used is bit departure from Christina Aguilera image of sexy, mature diva. It's just so girly, like the cover you will find on some girl-band from Japan or Korea.

The Album Cover.

I have the Lotus Deluxe Version which contained 17 tracks below:
  1. Lotus Intro
  2. Army of Me
  3. Red Hot Kinda Love
  4. Make the World Move (feat. CeeLo Green)
  5. Your Body
  6. Let There Be Love
  7. Sing for Me
  8. Blank Page
  9. Cease Fire
  10. Around the World
  11. Circles
  12. Best of Me
  13. Just a Fool (with Blake Shelton)
  14. Light Up the Sky
  15. Empty Words
  16. Shut Up
  17. Your Body (Martin Garrix Remix)
This albums is quite diverse in music style, although generally still dance oriented. I loved the marching drum touch on Cease Fire, Around the World and Best of Me (sometimes I found myself humming the chorus baby cease fire, fire, fire, while walking like an idiot. Yes, it's that infectious).
Throw in Christina's vocal of gymnastic, and you got powerful, energetic, toe tapping album. Although personally I feel Mrs. Aguilera sounded bit strained on some songs, but then, that screaming-like, powerful soprano IS Christina brand-style.

The lyrics is quite standards, you know, for a dance pop albums. You got some interesting lyrics now and then (Use my name as your claim to fame / Got my smell of success on your breath on Circle), but others are the usual stuff. I felt this album lyrics is mainly about how she got herself up and strong after some big break-up. Pardon my ignorance, but I really didn't interested on the artist life, all I interested is their musics.

Not all the songs are dance oriented song with bass pounding, however. There are some track's which quite a keeper. I personally like Sing for Me and Blank Page. Just a Fool is quite likeable actually, if not for how it sounded like a battle contest between Christina Aguilera vs. Blake Shelton. Please Mrs. Aguilera, Mr. Shelton, this is not a battle round of the Voice, play nice!!! Speaking about Blake Shelton, I just always thinking his name spelled backward, Shelton Blake sounded just so much more nicer!!! LOL.
Some grippe: the bonus tracks Light Up the Sky sounded like something out of Ryan Tedder's song book while Empty Words sounded just like the one you got from Leona Lewis old album Echo. Why not include more different tracks?

The production isn't that great, with my DR150 (which is quite detailed), I can hear how the instruments got smashed together: no separation, air, soundstage. The bass is mainly on mid-bass area, with big boomy sound to boot. The treble too, get too piercing sometimes, I need toning down about 3-5db on frequencies of 5 kHz and up on my foobar2000 equalizer. I hate doing equalizer, but this album won't listenable for long time if I don't do that.
On busy tracks, Christina vocals is going laid back, thankfully, reducing the fatigue immensely. On the simpler tracks however, you could hear how glorious Christina Aguilera vocal technique is. Pity she didn't includes more of those kind of songs.
Update: the production is really awful, opening a track on audacity, I can see how the track clipped. The compression is really high!

Verdict? Quite easy, if you like Christina Aguilera, you just had to listen to this album. For dance oriented song, maybe you better go to Rihanna albums. This album is a mix-and-match kind of album. Not quite dance-pop (although most of the songs of dance-pop flavored), but not quite balad-pop either. The result is an album which not too mainstream, but also have it's own flavors.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lana Del Rey - Paradise (EP) Review (updated)

Hello again, how are you? Me back with another review (again. sigh).
The album I want to share is titled Paradise (EP) from Lana Del Rey. Remember her? You know, the one who became Internet sensation sometimes ago when her video goes viral? Etc, etc. Yeah, that Lana.
Actually, you can find this EP as two version: as Paradise (EP) and as Born To Die the Paradise Edition, which, as it's name suggest, include tracks from her Born To Die album. I personally think you better go for the EP, that's if you have already buy the previous album.

The cover is very nice, Lana, with her hair flowing, standing on some beach (or maybe pool?) with tropical trees (coconut, maybe?) seen behind. The color used, which going for red-yellow, gave this Lana this golden shine. That, and the gold font used, gave the cover a classic and luxury feeling. Well, that's me anyway.

Paradise (EP) Cover
Born To Die The Paradise Edition Cover
The EP consist of 8 tracks, with some difference depends on where you buy your album (or EP). The tracks list:
  1. Ride
  2. American
  3. Cola
  4. Body Electric
  5. Blue Velvet
  6. Gods & Monsters
  7. Yayo
  8. Bel Air
This EP still had Lana's oldie signature: low sultry voice singing with darkness-tinged music, crying hedonism and broken life. Personally, I think Paradise is much better than Born To Die, all tracks on Paradise is more mature. Each track has it's own main theme, from slum-and-road theme on Ride, Las Vegas-night life tinged American and Cola, to sprinkle of Arabian night on Body Electric. The classic Blue Velvet, the more modern Gods & Monsters, to simple and very, very boring Yayo (at least compared to the other tracks), and finished with soft and airy Bel Air. Each different, but still managed to get whole.

I really like the string which accompanied most of the tracks giving the EP the warm-and-melancholy feeling, with a sprinkle of majestic thrown in. And the drums too, very nice. Add sparkling electric guitar, and you got a classic but tap-inducing (although quite draining) album. And boy, that arrangements works very well with Lana's voice.

Yes, the lyrics still wasn't the best ('my pussy tasted like pepsi-cola', really? Yes, it's still emotionally draining (have you see the music video? Lana had some of the most beautifully crafted music videos. Beautiful, though emotionally draining). And yes, there are some tones which similar to her last album, but as an EP, I still think this is a solid album good. The music guitars, the drums, the strings (which I really fond of), the voice, it's all make one solid album (or EP's, which ever you call it).

Pretty Recommended.

edit: adding some more words, paragraphs to make it bit longer.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: The Haunted Man. Me, not dead, yet.

Me, still alive and kicking, even after missing for like, forever. Okay, not forever, but still, the last blog post is on July, for heaven sake. I'm sorry for abandoning this blog for several month, you know, I got busy with my new job. And just can't muster enough mood and energy for writing.

Anyway, I'm back now, and I hope I can update this blog more regularly. Now, I want to inform you about this cool album by a singer named Bat for Lashes. What a strange name don't you think?! Her album is titled "The Haunted Man". You had to see the album cover: a naked girl (or woman?) shouldering a naked boy (or man?). Really a distinct cover.

The distinct cover.

The track list is below:
  1. Lilies
  2. All Your Gold
  3. Horses of the Sun
  4. Oh Yeah
  5. Laura
  6. Winter Fields
  7. The Haunted Man
  8. Marilyn
  9. A Wall
  10. Rest Your Head
  11. Deep Sea Diver
The album has a distinct atmosphere. The musics is simple yet powerful, the simplicity of it creating dark, mysterious scenes. You could hear every nuance of Natasha Khan (the singer's real name) voice. Beautiful.

One way or another, this album reminds me to Fiona Apple's last album: both had this beautiful simplicity although I think Bat for Lashes sounded more pop than the more jazzy Fiona Apple. And "The Haunted Man" had a more majestic feeling than "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw & Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do" (yes, that's Fiona Apple album's title, quite a mouthful yes?).

Overall, I really like Bat for Lashes's The Haunted Man. It carry distinct sound while keeping the music simple, yet not boring to listen to. For you who appreciate good music with good vocals, I recommend you to try this out.